GOVERNMENT last week repealed Statutory Instrument 142/2013 containing the Postal and Telecommunication (Subscriber Registration) Regulations following an adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) which observed that the regulations were unconstitutional as they allowed third parties to access subscribers’ personal data without a court search warrant.
The PLC, chaired by lawyer and Mudzi South MP Jonathan Samukange, passed the adverse report in March this year and was due for debate in Parliament next week when the august House resumes sitting.
In a June 13, 2014 Government Gazette , Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa said: “The Postal and Telecommunications (Subscriber Registration) Regulations 2013 published in Statutory Instrument 142 0f 2013, are repealed.”
Samukange yesterday said he had not yet been briefed of the developments officially.
The old regulations allowed State security agents to snoop into subscribers’ telephone conversations.
Another member of the PLC who spoke on condition of anonymity said any regulations gazetted should respect individual privacy.
“The regulations should not in any way allow the release of information to any third party, be they police or security agents without a valid court search warrant,” the members said.
The new regulations S.I 95 of 2014 bar the release of subscriber information to law enforcement agents without a court warrant.
Section 9 (3) of the new regulations reads: “Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, subscriber information shall not be released to law-enforcement agencies or any other person, where such release of subscriber information would constitute a breach of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe, any other enactment or where such release of subscriber information would constitute a threat to national security.”
The new regulations compel all service providers to ensure that such registration is done within 30 days of this regulation coming into operation.
The repealed regulations allowed Potraz to give information in its central database to a law-enforcement agent only if it was requested in writing by an officer of or above the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or an equivalent rank in another force, but must not do so if the disclosure would constitute a breach of the Constitution or any other enactment, or constitute a threat to national security.